Mount Pelee ERUPTS!

By Hannah Smith

Martinique, Caribbean Sea 1902- Just weeks before Mount Pelee's eruption, steam and ash were spotted coming from the large volcano. Many earthquakes were also experienced. May 8th is when the first lava eruption occurred. The eruption of Mount Pelee killed 30,000 people, and brought many areas to nothing but ashes.
Martinique is a beautiful island covered in mountains and jungles. Mount Pelee's volcanic ashes have created gray and black sand beaches.
"The destruction was caused by a nuee ardente, a type of pyroclastic flow that consists of hot incandescent solid particles. Photograph of a pyroclastic flow by Heilprin, 1902" (Pelee, Volcano World).
The day of the eruption, ashes, fire, and lava were everywhere, engulfing town by town. Small amount of people were able to head to safety. Close to 30,000 people died. In the town of St. Pierre, only two people were able to survive. If people didn't burn to death, the gray, thick, sulfurous gas killed them. The strange thing, was that about 50 people (mostly children), did not die from the volcano, but from snake bites.
The tragic incident began with earthquakes. But soon turned to larger earthquakes, raining ash, boiling water from sea, and lava.
"I felt a terrible wind blowing, the earth began to tremble, and the sky suddenly became dark. I turned to go into the house, with great difficultuy climbed the three or four steps that separated me from my room, and felt my arms and legs burning, also my body. I dropped upon a table. At this moment four others sought refuge in my room, crying and writhing with pain, although their garmets showed no sign of having been touched by flame. At the end of 10 minutes one of these, the young Delavaud girl, aged about 10 years, fell dead; the others left. I got up and went to another room, where I found the father Delavaud, still clothed and lying on the bed, dead. He was purple and inflated, but the clothing was intact. Crazed and almost overcome, I threw myself on a bed, inert and awaiting death. My senses returned to me in perhaps an hour, when I beheld the roof burning. With sufficient strength left, my legs bleeding and covered with burns, I ran to Fonds-Sait-Denis, six kilometers from St. Pierre"(Mount Pelee Eruption 1902, 10).
One of the two survivors of St. Pierre was a conflicted felon. Louis-Aguste Cyparis (know as Sampson), was in his jail cell when the eruptions began. Sampson was badly burned and found alive in his jail cell four days later by a rescue team.

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